Off Season Comic
It would not surprise anyone who has talked to me long enough to find out that I’m a hockey fan. Therefore, it should be no surprise to find out that I was elated when I found Off Season Comic, the beautifully illustrated and humorous hockey comic. I started following Off Season during its 3rd year and became so absorbed in it that I quickly dove into the archives and read it from the beginning.
The creator, Warren Frantz, does an impeccable job of drawing you into his comic with his family friendly tales, bright and pleasant art, and humor. In my interview with Frantz he tells of his hockey background, love of comics, and his creative strategies. Please enjoy:
Megan Markey: Your comic is based around a hockey goalie and his family. How much of your inspiration is derivative of your own life experiences?
Warren Frantz: I played hockey for 15 years of my life, and I hunger for it everyday. Both of my daughters have been involved in hockey. My wife is a fan and loves learning about the rules and history of the sport every time we watch it or play it. The family characters are definitely based on my family members. I embellish some of the stories, but they all look forward to seeing their “cartoon-selves” in the comic.
MM: How long have you known you wanted to draw comics? Do you have an art background?
WF: When I was a kid, we’d visit Gramma’s house every weekend. She’d have the color comics from the Saturday’s newspaper ready for us to draw pictures for her fridge. I loved Garfield, Andy Capp and Hagar the Horrible. I really wanted to have my comics on those color pages!
As far as art background is concerned, I am self-taught and always eager to learn more. Finding videos on YouTube and reading books by illustrators I enjoy are the research tools of choice. (Outside of constant doodling and scribbling, of course!) I am a teacher by trade, so when after-school art workshops come up, I jump at every chance I get. I actually taught a workshop a few years ago on incorporating Manga in the classroom.
My mom was a big influence on getting into cartooning. She was this ultra-talented, never-published artist who could draw or make anything: realistic or cartoon, quilts, whatever. She loved drawing “Precious Moments” characters. When she passed away, I got a hold of her last few sketchbooks. They are something I treasure and use as a measuring stick.
MM: The characters are visually colorful. What was the creative process in choosing the color scheme?
WF: When I started designing Gully, I knew that the classic goalie mask is white. While it is traditional, I didn’t find it visually appealing. I decided on yellow because it seemed bright and positive, like Gully’s deep down personality, and in the end, it reminded me a bit of Charlie Brown’s shirt!
I’ve always enjoyed the primary colors. They are basic, bold, and to me, very appeasing to the eye. It almost makes me feel like I’m in the sugary-cereal aisle of the grocery store. That’s how I like my comics: fun brain-candy!
MM: Do you have a favorite character to draw?
WF: Without question it is Hardy, Gully’s back-up goalie. I am constantly giggling as I think about what is going through his head when I draw him. He is meant to come across as young-at-heart with a beautiful, positive, child-like view on life… the way I wish my view on life could be.
MM: I notice that your format (size) is not always consistent. How do you plan the composition of the page?
WF: I’ve always said that Off Season is my Art School. I am learning the “ins and outs” of the art form. When I stray from the norm, I am experimenting with size and style. I try to highlight certain panels by making them bigger, or without a frame. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t, but every time I’m learning.
This year, I am going to try to make the comic more of a “page” style, rather than a “strip” style. I don’t think I’m quite ready for writing full-out comic books yet, but my storytelling style lends itself to more than a strip. The world of webcomics is great for giving unlimited options like that!
MM: Although you began your comic nearly 3 years ago, you’ve been running your own website for almost exactly a year now. What is your ultimate goal for Off Season?
WF: Off Season is a springboard. I am developing a world for a Graphic Novel that is rattling around my brain. It will feature a whole other set of characters, but the ground-work will be laid with this world. That is long-term.
In the short-term, I will be setting up my comic this year in 10 page stories. Next summer, I will work with these stories to make a series of mini-comics that I hope to make available for small fundraisers. I would really love to see an organization benefit from my work with Off Season.
MM: Oh, and lastly, why does Gully always wear his mask?
WF: Ha ha! The easy answer is that goalie masks are iconic. The deeper answer is that we all need to wear a mask in public, hiding our fears and insecurities behind a strong front. We all deal with problems, either personally or professionally, but the world doesn’t stop, and we need to keep up any way we can.
Besides, wouldn’t you be paranoid if your day job was to be constantly hit by frozen, rubber objects travelling at 100 miles per hour?
When it’s put that way I suppose I, too, would be wearing my mask at all times! Finding out the “behind the scenes” of Off Season shed a new light onto this already charming webcomic. Thank you Warren Frantz for giving us an inside look into your life and comic. I am eager to see more upcoming hockey adventures (and misadventures) of Gully and the crew.
Follow Megan Markey on Twitter @megmarkey.